Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette

Backlash over boarding school



PLANS to open a boarding school for teenagers has sparked backlash among locals who fear they will hang around on local streets and smoke outside their homes.

Residents in South Kensington have objected to plans for Baden Powell House to be turned into a school for GCSE and sixth-form pupils.

Mander Portman Woodward (MPW), which runs three independen­t schools across the UK, wants to transform the building into a boarding school for GCSE and sixth-form students.

The site is opposite the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. It was built in 1959 in memory of Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement.

The building is currently used as a conference centre, hostel accommodat­ion and event space. MPW already uses part of the site for teaching and plans to revamp it with classrooms on the lower floors and boarding accommodat­ion for 76 students on the third to sixth floors.

A report by the council’s director of planning said: “Subject to conditions, the proposals would have an acceptable impact upon neighbouri­ng living conditions, parking, or on flood risk and drainage.”

It adds: “A highly accessible location such as this would be particular­ly suitable for a new school of this size. It is a use which would continue to attract visitors to the area and assist in maintainin­g the vitality and the viability of the nearby South Kensington town centre.”

Kensington and Chelsea Council received 18 letters from locals objecting to the plans. One said they fear nearby home will be used as a space for pupils to gather and smoke. They wrote: “Without strict regulation­s being in place from MPW, we will have teenagers using the mews as their get together place out of the building, kids smoking, using weed etc, as this has already happened with students before.”

An agent for the school said MPW has a good relationsh­ip with the local community and will hire staff to make sure pupils do not disturb locals.

Another resident said they also fear their doorstep will become a hang-out spot for pupils.

They added: “With no area for the students to play and exercise, they will have no alternativ­e but to roam around the streets surroundin­g the school and with the potential number involved are likely to seriously annoy local residents, however well they might behave. More litter is bound to be deposited in the streets.”

One resident said there is no space next to the building for sports and outdoor activities, so they fear school pupils will gather in residentia­l streets. They said: “The natural meeting point would be in the mews behind, which risks becoming the de facto playground. The proposal is for a boarding school for older teenagers. They will most certainly be looking for a place to hang out, away from the school premises.”

A report by an agent for the school said it will hire “house parents” to make sure pupils stick to house rules and obey curfews. It also said teachers will patrol the area to make sure pupils don’t disturb locals.

It adds: “MPW has a long-standing relationsh­ip with the community in South Kensington, having been founded there almost 50 years ago... MPW has also used the building at 65- 67 Queen’s Gate as a teaching facility for many years and maintained good community relations throughout its occupancy of the building.”

Kensington and Chelsea was due to decide whether it would go ahead as we went to press.

 ?? PLAYER ROBERTS BELL ?? Baden Powell House could be transforme­d into a boarding school
PLAYER ROBERTS BELL Baden Powell House could be transforme­d into a boarding school

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